Wyrtig

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312
.
  

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Pennyroyal

 

 

Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal in early sources


Description      Propagation      Cultivation      Harvest
 

Mentha pulegium

Mentha, mint

Pulegium from Latin puleium or pulegium, from pulex flea (not the same as American pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, an annual that prefers dry, rocky soils.)

Common names, modern

Pennyroyal, from puliall royal, from pulex, flea, as the plant is a potent or "sovereign" insect repellent
 

Description

Lifespan

Short-lived perennial

Cold hardiness

Z 6-9, but self-seeds well in colder areas

Size

12" H x 12" W

Pennyroyal plant in bloomHabit

The smallest of the mints, the creeping form of pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium procumbens, has weak, prostrate stems from 3"to 12" long that root at each node. 


The upright form, Mentha pulegium erecta, has upstanding stems 8" to 12" tall.

 

Pennyroyal flowerFlower

Small reddish purple to lilac blue flower, found at nodes where leaves join stem

Fragrance

Foliage  and flowers are strongly mint-scented, very clean smell

Foliage

Slightly toothed leaves, opposite one another on stem

Comments

Pennyroyal was once used as a seasoning (and for this reason was also called pudding grass), but seldom is today. It can cause a skin rash in some people. Once used as an abortifacient, pennyroyal was feared because its therapeutic dose can lead to fatal liver damage (a woman died of pennyroyal poisoning in 1997). For this reason, women who are or may be pregnant should avoid ingesting pennyroyal, whether as a seasoning or in tea. Oil of pennyroyal is highly toxic, and should never be taken internally.

Propagation

By seed

Easy from seed and from stem cuttings. Seed may be slow to germinate.

Germination temperature

68 degrees

Germination time

5-21 days

Moisture

Keep seedlings moist but not soggy; bottom watering is best

Light

Needs light to germinate, so sow on surface of moist potting soil, tent with clear plastic to keep humidity high, and place where pots are in good light

Cultivation

Soil

Pennyroyal likes a rich, moist soil that is loamy rather than clayey.

Moisture

Although pennyroyal is drought tolerant, it likes moderate watering.

Light

Sunny to part shade

Companion planting

Good companion plant as its strong scent may confuse or repel pests like cabbage moths, but ladybugs seem to like it, which is nice as they eat aphids. It is also useful as a ground cover, or between stepping stones, where it will tolerate light foot traffic

Vigor

Enthusiastic self-sower, spreading eagerly where happy

Diseases

Verticillium wilt, rust (especially if fertilized with manure), anthracnose

Pests

Spider mites, some aphids

Comments

Deadhead if self-seeding is a concern; prune after flowering to encourage plant to become bushier

Harvest

Season to bloom/bear

Flowers midsummer to early fall

Seed collection

Allow to set seed, gather in fall as seed becomes dry. Let cleaned seed dry inside on a saucer for a week or two, then store in a sealed paper envelope in dry location that doesn't freeze. Or allow to self-seed, and relocate seedlings in spring.


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